Should NEGREANU Fold AK?

Super High Roller Bowl VI Overview

The whole poker world was buzzing over this hand involving Kid Poker himself, Daniel Negreanu, and newly crowned (or jacketed) Poker Master Michael Addamo. In the Super High Roller Bowl, where the price of entry is $300k, only the stiffest of competition comes ready to play, leading to this showdown between two poker juggernauts in only the first level!

The Game: Super High Roller Bowl VI, $300,000 Buy-In
Blinds: 500/1000, 1000 Big Blind Ante
Stacks Sizes: 254 Big Blinds Effective

Super Standard Preflop

Folded around to on the button, Negreanu utilizes pinnacle position and a great starting hand of AK and raises it to 2500 chips. Addamo, on the big blind, makes the call with 8♠6♣, defending the BB and fitting a sound strategy especially with the big blind ante in play. Addamo would see the benefits of such a strategy on the flop.

Floppin’ The Nuts

The Pot: 6,500
The Board: 9-7-5♣
Effective Stack: 251,000

Addamo, certainly stifling his inner excitement, hits a beautiful flop to not only hit the straight but do so on a rainbow board. While Addamo does have the effective nuts on the flop, he does not lead out as they are playing deep stacked. When you are playing deep stacked, you want to maintain a very limited leading range as whenever you do run into the nuts, you want to limit the loss of chips. While Addamo clearly does have the nuts in this spot, Negreanu’s range can account for eventual nut hands that can outdraw Addamo’s straight (sets and two pairs). Examining Negreanu’s position, if Addamo were to bet out of position, he should likely call. While in hindsight we know that Addamo would have been betting with a monster hand, he is not going to have that in this situation every time, meaning Negreanu, accounting for Addamo’s aggressive style, should call the majority of bets in this spot to utilize his likely still strong hand.

DNegs Pairs The Ace, But At What Cost?

The Pot: 6,500
The Board: 9-7-5♣-A♠
Effective Stack: 251,000

While both the Australian and the Canadian were likely happy to see this turn, little did Negreanu know just how much trouble that ace would bring. Before acting, Addamo should consider what Negreanu’s checking range is on this hand’s flop. Utilizing a solid Game Theory Optimal (GTO) strategy, there are plenty of aces in Negreanu’s flop checking range on this hand’s board, giving himself a hand where he himself can build the pot, letting Addamo patiently trap. With his strong paired ace, Negreanu puts out a bet of 3500, exactly what Addamo wanted. Utilizing his own solid GTO strategy, Addamo should be looking to make a substantial check-raise to build the pot, and take advantage of Negreanu holding a hard to fold hand. Addamo does just that, blasting 36000 chips into the pot, putting Kid Poker in a tough spot. While we know Addamo has a monster hand, Negreanu does not, and regardless your opponent will not always have you beat this badly. Additionally, Addamo’s extremely aggressive play style leaves him susceptible to potentially over bluff if he has not found the proper balance to play with. Personally, I likely would have made the call, which is what Negreanu does taking us to the river.

A Brick Or A Boat?

The Pot: 78,500
The Board: 9-7-5♣-A♠-5
Effective Stack: 215,000

The 5 could have very well been the worst card in the deck for Addamo, due to lots of two pairs turned full houses being well within Negreanu’s range. According to the GTO solver, Addamo should be checking 70% of the time, with the other 30% consisting of small bets that barely reach half the pot. Regardless of the pesky 5 and the solver, Addamo elects to shove all-in out of position, putting Negreanu in a tough spot. While everything suggests Addamo should not have made this move, what were some reasons why this was what transpired? There are two reasons: one being that there could be cards within both player’s ranges not accounted for in the solver or otherwise, and the other being Addamo thinks he’s ahead, and wants Negreanu to call. Acknowledging Negreanu’s presence as a quick caller who doesn’t like being pushed around, a bet like this could very well induce a call, especially when you can afford it.

The Result: Negreanu Pays Off Addamo, Contributes To The Winning Stack

Despite the numerous, angry tweets that awaited him, Negreanu made the call, paying off Addamo and setting him up to ride his monster stack all the way to 1st place. Negreanu would be somewhat vindicated later on in the tournament when Addamo made a similar move as a bluff against Jake Schindler, one that would bring about a fold and continue the dominant streak Addamo continues to be on.

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